Exercises for Students

Species Identification

Familiarize students with the wildlife of the Commonwealth. Discuss strategies in identification (size of the animal, color patterns, habits, habitat, time of year of the observation, etc.) Using pictures from Virginia Wildlife and other resources have students identify the species using their field guides. Have students compare two similar species and discuss how to tell the two apart (e.g. black racer and black rat snake, monarch butterfly and viceroy, indigo bunting and blue grosbeak). Use the looking to learn/learning to see exercise and/or the Who am I? done at the workshop.

Have students research a specific animal and write a report or present findings orally to the class and explain what the animal's key characteristics are, what habitat it prefers and some of its behavioral characteristics. Explain how time of day will affect the diversity of species you may see. Explain the importance of averaging results to increase the accuracy of the dataset and how monitoring at the same time is important in making accurate conclusions from the dataset.


Post directional guides (N, S, E, W) on each of the walls. Have students make maps of the classroom, playground or school grounds. Remember to have them put information on the map including a key and a N arrow. Point out how a flat map is a representation of a 3D image. Have them find a treasure using a map you have created. Discuss scale issues (fine scale vs coarse scale). Explain how to determine which way water flows based on the contour lines.


Have students take a birds eye view of the habitat around the school. Draw a picture of where field meets forest. Have them expand their view and add roads and other buildings as these affect the species present. Have students design changes in the habitat that might influence wildlife postively and negatively (e.g. planting a butterfly garden, adding a water source, building a road).